In Madrid this week, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, met with Mr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to discuss the bid by the islands for a seat on the Executive Council of the UNWTO, and also the desire for Seychelles to see the Slave Ruins of their Mission Lodge at Sans Soucis be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Minister St.Ange took the UNWTO Secretary General through the project referred to as the Slave Ruins at Mission Lodge in Seychelles and asked the Secretary General for his support to save for posterity a site with such cultural value. The Research Section of the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture is currently working on the submission for the UNESCO, but the Seychelles Minister said as he discussed with Mr. Rifai of the UNWTO, that documents and projects are one thing, but to raise the awareness of the project with such a cultural heritage value was even more important.
“Mission Lodge was formally known as Venn’s Town in the 1870s. It was set up by the Church Missionary Society, a philanthropic group in 1876 to 1889 to accommodate children of liberated slaves. The site is situated on top of a mountain at 450 meters in a national park, far from the main town area, a place unique in biodiversity and history, and commanding one of the best panoramic views of the islands. The last batch of liberated slaves landed in Seychelles in 1875, but Venn’s Town still accepted children born of African parents working as laborers and on plantations. The site symbolises the beginning of formal education and Christianity for the liberated slave children of Seychelles.
“The site was an important stop along the slave route in the 18th and 19th century in the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa, and was also an important element in the makeup of the African Diaspora. Venn’s Town of Mission Lodge is a site that demonstrates something in human life that is regrettable, but that took place. It represents an event in the whole world in terms of slavery. These are the symbols of freedom. Venn’s town is the only site in the world that served freed slave children. It is today inhabited and begging to be recognised by the world as a unique historical Site for the World,” Minister Alain St.Ange said to Mr. Taleb Rifai.
After the meeting, Minister Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles told the press that the UNWTO Secretary General was supportive of the call by Seychelles to seek the support of the world body, UNESCO, to work with Seychelles to protect the Slave Ruins of Mission Lodge for posterity. “We are after protecting this site for all to see; a cultural site with a million-dollar view, but for us in Seychelles, a site with a unique cultural dimension out of the commercialisation world. We need it to become a site for the world, which is why we are seeking UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site,” the Seychelles Minister said.